In a much-anticipated move, Disney announced Friday it will launch Frozen 2, a sequel to its Oscar-winning mega-moneymaker, some time this year. This is the next step in the development of a franchise that has already delivered the world's largest entertainment company billions of dollars in profits from domestic and international ticket sales as well as a seemingly endless cascade of merchandise.
While many sequels that aren't part of a trilogy suffer from declining audience viewings, Frozen 2 is not on such a course, said Jim McQuivey, a media analyst at Forrester Research. Frozen 2 should "easily outperform other sequels, given its audience's permanent attachment to the characters and the song," he said in an email.
Disney has yet to set a release date for Frozen 2 or announce production details, but there's little doubt that the still-heated Frozen franchise will do well in theaters and the toy departments of big-box stores. The original Frozen pulled in more than $1.3 billion in box-office receipts along the way as it snowballed into a global brand on par with that from the Star Wars and Harry Potter franchises.
Feeding the Frozen frenzy, Disney recently released a trailer for a short spin-off film that will be called Frozen Fever that will be shown in theaters this weekend prior to the launch of its newest film, Cinderella. This latest announcement carries the franchise, that incorporates merchandise ranging from children's costumes to CDs, one step further.
Disney's net income soared 19% to $21.2 billion for the quarter ended Dec. 31 compared to the span a year earlier as revenue surged 9% to $13.4 billion powered by Frozen's ripple effect in sales of consumer products like DVDs, pillows and dolls. The share price spiked 5% that day and remains up more than 12% in 2015. At midday the stock was trading at about $106 a share.
"There seems to be no limit to the drawing power of the Frozen brand and the excitement surrounding the announcement of Frozen 2 solidifies the notion," Paul Dergarabedian, a senior media analyst for Rentrak, said in an email. "The Frozen brand is part of a long term strategy that will power interest and revenues for potentially decades to come."
Frozen 2 is not likely to prove as enormously successful as the original film, but it doesn't need to be for Disney to use the franchise as a cash cow to extend a profitable run, Dergarabedian said. Indeed Frozen merchandise alone boosted the toy industry about 4% in 2014.
"The genius of such a sequel is that it extends the life -- and the profits -- of everything associated with the first movie," McQuivey said. "The merchandise will continue to sell," he continued. "Even the digital downloads of the original will continue to sell, such that the second movie really becomes a massive marketing effort to sell everything associated with the first."
Disney revealed this week it has more plans for its Star Wars franchise, with Rogue One to open in December 2016 and StarWars: Episode VII to be released in 2017.
And more than likely, a Frozen sequel will be on the horizon, too.